A ‘Golden Ticket’

— Teen tweets 800 times to win a chance to see One Dir­ec­tion in con­cert in NYC.

Sandy Aitken wins the Golden Pass for a Twit­ter con­test. She won a long week­end with the band One Dir­ec­tion, after she tweeted 800 cre­at­ive tweets abou the band, Decem­ber 11, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

  Like a lot of teen­age girls, Sandra Aitken has a big crush on the pop­u­lar Eng­lish-Ir­ish boy band One Dir­ec­tion.

“I like the way they sing and look and their ac­cents,” she said. “I stalk them on You­Tube.”

Earli­er this month, the Arch­bish­op Ry­an High School seni­or got a chance to see the boy band from a prime seat at New York City’s Madis­on Square Garden. All it took to win “The Golden Tick­et” was for her to send more than 800 tweets over five days about the lads in the band.

As any teen­age girl will tell you, One Dir­ec­tion is a mu­sic sen­sa­tion right now, best known for its big hit single What Makes You Beau­ti­ful. The band has sold more than 15 mil­lion al­bums, singles and videos. Bill­board named One Dir­ec­tion the Top New Artist for 2012 and MTV placed the band on its Best Artists of 2012 list. On Craigslist.org, tick­ets to their Phil­adelphia con­cert in June are be­ing offered for $600 a seat.

Sandra, 17, has been a big fan since the band star­ted to make it big about two years ago. On Nov. 15, she learned of a Pep­si-sponsored con­test called “Bring Me to 1D.” Be­gin­ning that day and run­ning un­til Nov. 20, par­ti­cipants were asked to use their Twit­ter ac­counts to tweet unique, ori­gin­al, cre­at­ive and rel­ev­ant com­ments about One Dir­ec­tion.

The grand prize? Tick­ets for the five-mem­ber pop band’s Dec. 3 con­cert at Madis­on Square Garden. The next day, the lucky fan would at­tend a meet-and-greet ses­sion with the band mem­bers.

Once Sandra learned about the prize, she was “all in.”

“I was ob­sessed with tweet­ing,” she said.

Sandra didn’t tweet while work­ing as a host­ess at Friendly’s, but did fire off mes­sages most of the rest of her wak­ing mo­ments, in­clud­ing at the movies, and dur­ing lunch, in com­puter class and study hall at Ry­an.

In all, she sent more than 800 tweets, in­clud­ing some with pic­tures, dur­ing the course of the con­test. Her teach­ers and class­mates were gen­er­ally sup­port­ive, but not every­one was amused.

“Some people star­ted un-fol­low­ing me and telling me I wasn’t go­ing to win,” she said.

But it was the judges who would have the fi­nal say. They pored over the tweets of some 33,000 people and an­nounced the win­ner on Nov. 27. Sandra, a Somer­ton res­id­ent, checked her e-mail that day in com­puter class and saw a note from con­test of­fi­cials that she was the win­ner. At first, she thought it was a scam, but once she con­firmed the e-mail was for real, the cel­eb­ra­tion was on.

“I was scream­ing,” she re­called.

She was cry­ing by the time she called to tell her mom, Roseanne. The teen was en­titled to bring a chap­er­one and a guest. She chose her mom and her cous­in Lauren Aitken, a 17-year-old ju­ni­or at Down­ing­town East High School.

There were 50 win­ners world­wide, in­clud­ing 10 in the United States. The oth­er Amer­ic­ans won con­tests held on ra­dio sta­tions and the El­len De­Generes tele­vi­sion show.

Every­one stayed at a North Jer­sey hotel. They were giv­en a One Dir­ec­tion good­ie bag and posed next to in­di­vidu­al card­board cutouts of the guys.

“It was like a gi­gant­ic con­ven­tion with win­ners from all over the world,” Sandra said. “It was really cool that every­one was all to­geth­er.”

The fans, all of whom clutched their “Golden Tick­ets,” were giv­en VIP treat­ment. Be­fore the con­cert, they listened to a sound check by open­ing act Ed Sheer­an. They had seats on the Madis­on Square Garden floor, near the cat­walk and main stage and close to the smoke, fire, con­fetti, lights and videos that were part of the show. Sandra waved an Amer­ic­an flag, while the oth­ers waved the flags of their coun­tries.

“To have seats like that at Madis­on Square Garden was amaz­ing,” she said. “They were singing right to us.”

The next day prom­ised to be just as good, if not bet­ter.

“I couldn’t sleep that night,” Sandra said.

The fans and their guests took a tour of New York City along the Hud­son River be­fore “The Boys,” as Sandra af­fec­tion­ately calls them, met them at a nearby mar­ina club, with se­cur­ity guards every­where.

The band con­sists of Harry Styles, 18; Ni­all Hor­an, Za­yn Ma­lik and Liam Payne, all 19; and Louis Tom­lin­son, 21. Ni­all is an Ir­ish­man. The oth­ers are Brits. Harry is Sandra’s fa­vor­ite, and Taylor Swift’s fa­vor­ite, too. The two are dat­ing. Harry and Taylor, not Harry and Sandra.

Mor­gan Spur­lock is dir­ect­ing a 3-D movie on the band so the meet-and-greet was cap­tured on film. The win­ners watched a mu­sic video of the band’s song Kiss You that won’t be re­leased un­til Janu­ary. Ni­all played acous­tic gui­tar while the boys per­formed three songs, in­clud­ing What Makes You Beau­ti­ful

The boys signed a copy of their latest CD, Take Me Home, and gave Sandra and a couple of oth­er win­ners a group hug.

“We called it a 1D sand­wich,” she said.

The fans sub­mit­ted ques­tions on post­cards, and two ques­tions sub­mit­ted by Sandra and Lauren were chosen: Do you like the Beatles? What do you find cute in a girl?

Harry spoke for the boys when he said they like the Beatles. And they all agreed that they liked pretty eyes and a smile on a girl.

“Harry told me I have beau­ti­ful eyes,” said Sandra, who blushed and smiled back at him.

Sandra can re­live her two days of joy by watch­ing videos on You­Tube and vevo.com

The teen was happy to see that the boys seemed down to earth and ap­proach­able. 

“It was such a great ex­per­i­ence. I felt like I was in New York for a week,” she said.

The boys com­peted in­di­vidu­ally on the 2010 sea­son of the Brit­ish ver­sion of the TV singing com­pet­i­tion show The X Factor. The judges sug­ges­ted that they team up to have a bet­ter chance to win. As a group, they fin­ished third. Soon after, Si­mon Cow­ell — the former tell-it-like-it-is judge from Amer­ic­an Idol — signed them to a re­cord deal. 

The boys sang What Makes You Beau­ti­ful at the clos­ing ce­re­mon­ies of the Sum­mer Olympics in Lon­don and have played in the pres­ence of Queen Eliza­beth II. A few weeks ago, they were fea­tured on Bar­bara Wal­ters’ Most Fas­cin­at­ing People of 2012 show.

This Brit­ish in­va­sion will con­tin­ue with a world tour in Feb­ru­ary, and the band will be at the Wells Fargo Cen­ter on June 25. Sandra will see them in con­cert in Ju­ly in Her­shey.

Roseanne Aitken has taken her daugh­ter to see her fa­vor­ite sing­er, Peter Framp­ton, in con­cert mul­tiple times. Mom was glad to see her daugh­ter get a chance to see her fa­vor­ite band, up close and per­son­al.

“I’m so happy for her hav­ing this once-in-a-life­time op­por­tun­ity,” she said. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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